• The University of Tasmania will publicly apologise for its role wrongdoings against Aboriginal people. | Universities Australia. (Universities Australia)Source: Universities Australia
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania says the institution will 'apologise' for the 'grave consequences' Aboriginal people have suffered since 1803.
Douglas Smith

25 Nov 2019 - 2:59 PM  UPDATED 25 Nov 2019 - 2:59 PM

The University of Tasmania will make a public apology next month for its role in past "wrongdoings" against the palawa kani people.

The university's Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black has sent an email out to staff that said the apology was "the right and necessary thing to do" and was a step towards "true healing" with the Aboriginal people of Tasmania, the Advocate Tasmania reported on Sunday.

Local Aboriginal leader, Michael Mansell said the apology was "sincere" and "accepted in that spirit."

The apology has been endorsed by the University Council, and speaking to NITV News, Mr Mansell said it comes at a time when palawa kani people have "been experiencing a pretty anti-Aboriginal government" for the last four years. 

"Out of the blue, an education institution not only acknowledges the wrongs of the past but takes responsibility for fixing the consequences of the past - and the starting point, of course, is to make an apology to Aboriginal people," said Mr Mansell. 

"The apology is an initiative of a non-government institution that contrasts anti-Aboriginal sentiment from the current government. 

Mr Mansell described apologies for historic wrongdoing as not being "admissions of guilt", but instead served as examples that showed how people today were prepared to take responsibility for the consequences of the past.

"A modern Tasmanian education institution is sending a message to the Aboriginal community of 'welcome', and to the broader community 'let's take responsibility," he said. 

Vice-Chancellor Black said Tasmania had been "scarred by the evidence of wrongdoings committed against the palawa kani people of Lutruwita (Tasmania)," since the establishment of Risdon Cove in 1803, when British settlers massacred a large group of local Aboriginal people. 

"These include invasion, frontier war, massacres, incarceration at Wybalenna and Putalina/Oyster Cove, State-sanctioned disinterment and collection of Aboriginal human remains, the denial of human rights and even of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community's very existence," said Prof Black.

"There is no single measure or dimension that can describe or start to capture the wrong that has been done in this time or the magnitude of that wrongdoing.

"We can't change the past or right the wrongs, but we can apologise," he said. 

The apology will be recorded on a plaque and written in both palawa kani and English.

The ceremony will be held at the Hobart Domain Campus on December 4. 

$10,000 more for survivors of South Australia's Stolen Generations
The SA Premier said it was important to acknowledge "the wrongs of removal and offer some closure".